Rare to begin with is the computer science major who also majors in music. Among those rare few, Chris Snyder ’07 is rarer still: He’s been able to combine his abilities in both music and computers into a vocation—an inventive vocation at that.
He’s the creator of Adoro, a company that’s bringing technological innovations to the centuries-old business of sacred music publishing.
The seeds for the venture were planted shortly before and after he graduated. Studying organ and singing in Capella as a student and singing in the Alumni Choir after graduation, Snyder met many people in the church music field.
“In the fall of 2007,” he recalled, “I happened to have conversations with composers who told me the publishing industry wasn’t serving them or keeping up with technology.”
Since the February before, when his father was killed in a car accident, Snyder had been running the family’s computer software business. His conversations with composers opened his eyes to an opportunity.
By the following spring he’d launched Adoro Music Publishing with the slogan: “A fresh voice. A new standard.”
Snyder can make both claims for Adoro because he thinks both digitally and musically. “The fresh voice is our approach: digital, on-demand and with a focus on customer service,” he explained. “The new standard is the level of quality we bring to sacred music publishing.”
At the Adoro website, musicians can preview sample pages of new music and listen to it being performed. If they choose to order a piece, they can download it immediately as a PDF file and purchase permission to print as many copies as they need. If musicians choose to order a piece of music in paper, copies are mailed the next day.
“Because I custom-design our software,” Snyder said, “website changes are easy, and our ordering process is very efficient.”
It’s not only his computer savvy that changes the standard experience for purchasers of sacred music. When he sets a new composition in type—called engraving—he does so with a musician’s eye and ear. Though music-setting software gives him an initial draft, “It’s never good enough,” Snyder said.
“It might be accurate and look OK, but as a musician I can see where a page-turn would be terrible or where a measure break would make sight reading more difficult. So I tweak placement on the page to make music more playable and visually appealing. I have widely published composers tell me that, of the publishers they’ve worked with, ours is the best engraving they’ve seen.”
As another nod of respect to composers, he gives each piece a beautiful cover, designed by Adoro’s other full-time employee, Scott Admiraal ’06, and pays more than double the usual royalty fee.
A collaboration with the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship has prompted Snyder into another innovation. For a series of instrumental hymn accompaniments, he designed software that gives directors online access to custom-transposed parts. For example, in a piece written for string ensemble, they can substitute a clarinet.
Innovations keep happening at Adoro because, as Snyder put it, “The president of the company is both the web designer and a musician.”
He’s expecting customers and composers alike to notice the difference that makes.
See Adoro’s music catalog